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Full text of "Wilmington : a retrospective"

Wilmiii 





I 


Wilmington 




A RETROSPECTIVE 


Gerry O'Reilly, editor 


■ 


GERRY O'REILLY 
Copyright ©2012 

^•^ ° ^-^ Composition: Patricia O'Reilly 



A 



Wilmington Center 

When one passes through Wilmington Center today, the commercial activity is hardly noticed. 
Yet, it was just a few years ago that the Center, crossroad of Routes 38, 129, and 62, reeked 
with the smell of activity. Wilmington was a railroad junction town: 60-plus trains, including 
long, long freights, passed through each day with most of them stopping to board or unload 
passengers. The chug, soot, and steam were real. Some trains were Wilmington-to-Boston 
only-the engine turning in the roundhouse that was on the Wildcat tracks just north of 
Middlesex Avenue. The names of the businesses that were in the Center are only talked about 
today, but they, too, were real: Huntley's and Phyll's served Pick ale; Griffin's, McLaughlin 
Drug, and the Atlantic Market sold packaged liquor. We had the Economy and First National, 
Bennie's Radio, Byam's Laundry, Ames News, Poole's Bakery, taxi stands, a movie house, a 
police station, a tailor, cobblers' shops, the bowling alley, Mike Weinberg's Dry Goods Store, 
a bank, the post office, the coal yard, oil yard, grain yard, lumber yard, concrete block yard, 
etc. The Center's activity waned when the plaza opened and Avco came to town-Wilmington 
burst its seams, and only the pictures remain of the recent past. 



J^ 



Wilmington Center 




Looking north, Wilmington Center about 1900. The corner of Middlesex Avenue in the background. 
The streetcar tracks are clear in the unpaved road; the overhead wires are also visible. Only two 
buildings remain today, the one with the flat roof facing the street and the present Bedell Insurance offlce. 
Bill Dayton 1900 



a 
I 




The Wilmington Theater was closed, and a "For Sale" sign was posted. Weinberg's moved to the corner of 
Middlesex Avenue and Main Street into a modern, new, clothing store. Merrimac Cleaners was now in Buck's 
Garage; Roy's shoe store was in Phyll's Cafe. 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



V 




Theatre Marquee 



Ann Humphrey Berghaus 



1981 



7 







Bill Dayton 



National Geodesic Survey Map of 1935 of Center area 



1' 




Train Station 1940 



Paul White 



Big Joe's Sub Shop 



// 




Train Station 



The Depot was purchased in 
1962 from the B&M to use as a 
private parking lot. Wilmington 
Ford purchased the property a 
few years later for a used car 
lot. Joe LaCreta then bought 
the run-down property and 
refurbished the building and 
the parking lot for his present 
sandwich shop. 



Big Joe's Sub Shop 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



/z 




Railroad Bridge at Burlington Avenue 



Ann Humphrey Berghaus 



1981 



/ J5 




T^tni2R Burlineton Avenue. Wilmington. Mass. 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 




Paul White 



Wilmington Center - 1940 




Paul White 



Block Destroyed by Fire, 1947 
Notice the lined crosswalk. 



Wilmington Center - 1940 



Kp 




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%«-, 

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Church Street Hardware: Schelumiel Macintosh and Frank Grifrin,Sr. opened the store in 1941. The package 
store was added shortly afterwards. 



Frank Griffin / Bill Doyle 



1945 



/7 



/9 



Depot Memories 

The Wilmington Depot has been located adjacent to the much publicized Burlington Avenue railroad bridge for 
as long as I can remember. It now belongs to "Big Joe" LaCreta. The B&M baggage handling and freight 
building was located north of the railroad station. It stood near the end of the present building with the 
"Bagels to Boston" sign. 

Adjacent to and north of the railroad depot was the Buck Brothers' grocery store. During the Depression, it 
was Weinberg's department store. During World War II, it was occupied by George Spanos' Restaurant.Over 
Buck Brothers' Store was a rental apartment. My great-grandmother Abbie (Billiard) Lyon(s) lived there for 
as long as I can remember. Access to this apartment was through a door at the rear of the store. A long, dark, 
and dingy hallway led up narrow, steep, winding stairs to the second floor. Abbie Lyon(s) died here in April 
of 1932. If I remember correctly, they had to take out a window to remove the body. By today's building 
codes in Wilmington, this building would have flunked every code. The picture shown in this book was taken 
about 1940 to show the burned roof at the top floor. 

Once, while home on a furlough from the United States Army Air Corps, I walked into the restaurant and 
presented George with my picture in uniform and received my free meal. That picture still exists, along with 
those of others who served in World War II, in the panels that once were on George's wall. 

At the north end of the modern, brick building stood two wooden two-story residential buildings. After 
burning down, this became the site of old Joe Ireland's gas station. At the extreme right of the picture, where 
Action Glass is now, was the location of Atlantic meat store. It became Altman's Liquor Store, after the town 
voted to let package stores be in Wilmington when the restaurants that served liquor were voted out. 

Bill Dayton 



/9 



Fire-gutted Building 




COLA 



George Spanos' restaurant in the 1940s. 

Herb Pickering's plumbing supply shop is shown in its earlier location prior to expansion along the side of 

the building out to Main Street. Note the burned-out roof section and the painted sign. 

Bill Dayton 1940 



^K^ 




George's Restaurant - 

George Spanos was the unofHcial 
mayor of Wilmington. During World 
War II, he opened his doors to all 
servicemen. His wall pictures that 
survive today serve as a tribute to 
the man, a Wilmington legend. 




Roy Ferguson 



1955 



21 




George Spanos, the unoffiicial mayor of Wilmington, friend to all military servicemen 
and young Wilmington athletes. 



John Ritchie 



1965 



;?a 




Altman's Liquor Store 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



53 




In 1922 the Eagle Cafe, owned by Bert Forbes, was in the depot parking lot. The fence is along Main Street. 
The tracks are visible in the right background. The Burlington Avenue Bridge is in the left rear background 
-notice the stairs leading up to the road. Harry Huntley purchased the lunch cart and moved it across Main 
Street to form the basis for his restaurant, Huntley's Lunch. 

Liz Huntley White 



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Huntley's Lunch 

Harry Huntley purchased the Eagle 
Cafe in 1925 and moved it across the 
street. He built his restaurant around 
this cafe and ran that business, until 
he retired in 1961. 

He employed many local people at 
different times in his diner, 
restaurant, and catering business. 
Some of these were: Walter Babine, 
Hermie Babine, Wes Baker, Bob 
Baker, Lefty Gratcyk, Art Lynch, 
Tina Hembree, Robbie Ethier, Horace 
Huntley, and Frank Huntley. 



Harry Huntley -in white work clothes- in the 40s. 



Liz Huntley White 



;lS 




Willie Lynch, Dr. Ralph Lepore, Roy Ferguson 



Bill Coulter entering. 



Roy Ferguson 



1957 



3L(o 




Huntley's Restaurant 





Roy Ferguson 



1955 



XI 




Paul White 



Wilmington Center - 1940 



22 



J^ 




Post Office - 1940 



Paul White 



Bedell Bros. Insurance 



3o 




HlM«»«% 




When urban renewal was defeated 
at the Town Meeting, Mike Weinberg 
took the initiative and built a modern 
store at the corner of Middlesex Ave. 
and Main Street. The lot now is the site 
of Massbank for Savings. 



Ann Humphrey Berghaus 



1950 



3i 



Roundhouse and Water Tower 




The last steamer was taken out in October of 1954. The building had six engine stalls as well as the turning 
around table. 
LC Hutchinson, Jr. / Bill Dayton 1954 



3^ 



A Walk on Main Street 

The Editor would like to step back into the recent past on a day's journey. A Saturday trip with 25^ in the 
pocket on movie day. The Wilmington Theatre cost 12^, bus fare was 5^ each way; three cents left over for 
candy. On a good Saturday -probably springtime when the day was long- I'd walk to the center to save a 
nickel. The show was run by Fred Husson, his wife and her two sisters. (Show slips were paper airplanes 
flown when the lights went down.) When the movie was over, the doors burst open, and everyone would try 
to leave at once. I would walk home to save the other nickel. On the way home I'd meet Tito Babine first of 
all, then downstairs to the bowling alley -four lanes, 20^ a string- John MacCarron in charge. Pool -four 
tables- was 1^ a minute -first table reserved. George Castanaris was the town tailor. Paul Carpenter cleaned 
up in Mike Weinberg's dry goods store. Gun-Sight Pass was the empty corner at Main and Church: Charlie, 
Red, and Tim were regulars. Across from Griffin's package store was MacLaughlin Drug -Steve Condrey, 
happy, smiling, and friendly. Adrian cut hair with a shaky hand. Roy Poole's bakery smelled great. John 
Finnerty ran the First National, Tony Zeolie ran the paper store, Dick Woods was his counterman. In the train 
yard, steam sucked and blew the soot into the wind and upon all that walked by. 

The police station moved to Church Street, and Benny Harrison's Radio and TV moved in; Rocky CipoUo ran 
his errands. Huntleys was the busiest of all -Art Lynch was the A-No.l tap man. Harry ran the restaurant 
-Horace helped out. Friendly, well-known George Spanos across the street. Blanchard ran the Economy; Jack 
Riley was there to make the meat go. I'd go on past Jeanette White's cobble shop (later Bob Michelson*s shoe 
store). Then, to the post office. Inside the P.O. were two writing tables, two pens, two ink wells; I'd write 



33 



my name on the table, probably erase someone else's, and move on. Across the street -Wilmington Grain- did 
you ever buy five pounds of rabbit food from Bessie with Meyer looking on? Joe McMahon ran the bank. Bill 
Cavanaugh had a cab -John "Okie" O'Connell was one of his drivers, and, in later years, Jim Cuoco did the 
driving. At the RR crossing Ruben Porter and Henry Hiller smiled and said, "Hi!" I always wanted to crank 
the crossing gate down. From the shack I'd go back to and in the roundhouse. The men inside were friendly 
but all business when a train was being turned around. From the roundhouse I would cut through behind 
Builder's Supply (Harry Symmes) then behind Louie's; the tires were there then also. If luck was on, Forrest 
Dame's midget racer was there to be seen. Now, out to Main Street-drop a stone in the stream at Louie's and 
go into Bully's Sunoco. Spin the propeller on one of the many red, white and blue windmills. Continue on 
behind Susan Estler's, then back on Main Street. Run up the hill and down the other side. Cross over Main 
and run all the way to the Blue Terrace -only swamp and trees where Demoulas and Ford are now. 
I'd slow down at the Terrace-take a look in the bar side and then continue on to Rocco's -Mrs. Carter and 
Mrs. Little waitressed. Cross over to the Rainbow with its fake stone front, look in-always a full house, a 
walk-in neighborhood place. Cross back over Main Street and run up the hill and down the other side to 
Carta's diner. Thompson's Grove was across the street from George Cross's gas station. I'd run the bases, 
hook slide into second (the base paths were deep ruts). Climb over the wire fence and back over to the other 
side of Main Street -climb up and walk the elegant stone wall over Lubber's Brook -we called it "Pop's 
Brook". Then, over to Al "Jake" Riley's gas station. Jake was the supreme authority at Silver Lake and 



iV 



everyone owed him Hve bucks. To Tat's for a vanilla ice cream. Bill and Lil in the early days, then taken over 

by Margaret and Hap Hourihan. Licking the ice cream, I'd check out Tom McQuaid's store (Tom Twaid). 

Tom talked a blue streak -a cigarette butt hung on his lip, sometimes lit, but mostly out, and never fell o^ his 

lip. Tim Cunningham had an ice cream parlor in the old Economy store. Louie Hailson followed Tim with a 

drug store. Art the Barber cut my hair first (Arthur Costa from Lowell). Mr. Cutter ran his drug store. With 

ice cream pretty well gone, I cut through the minature golf course (grown over in my time) and then head out 

behind the ice house; skip some stones, hoping for a thirty. Then over to the scale house and rock the scale a 

bit. Then along the lake where that beautiful postcard rail fence stood. Look for some frogs and turtles (I 

caught them all). Look once at George Steven's market; Mr. Allard cut the meat, later Bob Wagstaff. Then run 

home. Our house was the last one in Wilmington -backdoor in Wilmington, front door in Tewksbury. 

I'd burst in the house, out of breath. My mother, Nellie, in her sweet Irish voice would say , "Oh, my boy, 

where have you been?" 

-"Skipping rocks." 

_"And did you see anybody?" 

-"Nah, nobody." 

Gerry O'Reilly 



Flooded cranberry bog, now Rotary Park, behind Cranberry House, towards Adelaid St. and Highway Dept. 




Mrs. Hiller's Cranberry House; the 
outside porch housed the equipment 
for the operation of the cranberry 
business. It is said that she sat on a 
lawn chair under an umbrella and 
surveyed the bog and the workers. 
In 1946 the porch was being torn 
down and the inner apartment was 
being remodeled. Notice the sidewalk 
is higher than the roadway. 



Ann Butters 



Looking towards Main Street, Middlesex Ave. at Rotary Park 



J^ 




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Highway Department 
Wilmington Police Station is now occupying the site. 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



s? 




Chief Francis '^Nifty" Hofoan alid John Imbimbo assisting with ambulance duty on Church Street at the 
police station.The Macintosh Building is to the rear, and Charlie Gilbert^s house is in the left background. 
Norinne Markey 1953 



3s 




Walker School and Rotary Park 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



39 





Walker School 



Roy Ferguson 



Walker School 

I 

In the yellow building proudly 
proclaiming: "Walker School 1896" I 
spent four happy years. I remember 
Mrs. Wiberg, Miss Kevil, Mrs. 
Oman, and Mrs. Donovan. My 
friends were Eileen LePore, Elaine 
Bertwell, Judy Cutter, and Janice 
Buck. We put our coats in the "Cloak 
Closet". At recess, the girls played 
out back on the black swing poles (no 
swings, just poles) and on the four 
huge boulders (one shaped like a 
horse) bordering the Church Street 
sidewalk. The boys played in the 
front of the school on the black 
seesaw poles (no wooden board, just 
poles). I remember patriotic 
assemblies on the front steps, PTA 
mothers serving soup in the 
basement, and, with a note from your 
parents, being allowed to ice skate on 
the bog across the street at lunchtime. 
...Most of all, I remember feeling 
very sad that day in 1985 when the 
Walker School was torn down. 

Ann Humphrey Berghaus 

1955 



^o 



Walker School 1936 



4': 



> 




Front Row: Julia Webber, Bob Swain, Doris Richard, Albert Manson, Liz Huntley, Francis O'HcU-a, Dottie Froton, John 
Bob Gardner Canales 



., Irene Foley, 



Sitting: Rose Cipollo, Gerry Larkin, Grace Dame, 



_, Muriel Martin, Jimmy Welling, Gerry Porter, Mary Smith 



Back Row: Bob Woods, Bob Findlay, Robert Blaisdell, Kenny Hallett, Jack Reagan, Ray Carter, Fred Bischoff, Alan Dickinson, Burt Holmes, Dottie Oman, 
Phyllis McSheffrey, Roberta Hillis 
Teacher - Miss Cannon 

Liz Huntley White 




Methodist Church on 
Church Street 

Rev. Putnam Webber was the 
Pastor when the Wilmington 
Methodist Church, with a 
capacity of 96 parishioners, 
was dedicated in 1884. The 
building was used as the 
church school when the new 
church was built in 1957. The 
original church was torn down 
in the summer of 1976 while 
Rev. Richard Evans was the 
Pastor. 

Ann Humphrey Berghaus 



Jim Durkee 



1953 



^x 




Methodist Church 

The cornerstone for this church 
was laid in 1957 by Rev. 
Richard Harding. Other early 
Pastors were Rev. Thomason, 
Rev. Miller. The first Assistant 
Pastor was Fred Hess. 

AHB 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



V3 



v-^ 




Wilmington Memorial Library now stands on this site. 
Saint Thomas Church 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



■ -^ 




Wilmington Historical 
Commission 
Babcock Collection 



Saint Thomas -note the new building fund sign 



1963 



f^ 




Saint Thomas Church 

Fr. Edmund Croke, along ^ith 
Fr. Francis Mackin and Fr. 
Paul Berube, broke ground for 
this church, which was 
dedicated in 1960 by Cardinal 
Cushing. 

AHB 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



77 




The Thomas D. Bond Estate was purchased by St. Thomas as a residence for priests in 1920. 
Paul White 



1940 



y<5^ 



■ 1-'*/^ 




Jim Durkee 



Saint Thomas Rectory 



1953 




American Legion Hall 



American Legion Past Commanders 



Robert Annaian 
John Kelley 
Joe Steen 
Dave Trane 
Paul Haught 
Ann Maclnnis 
Leslie Gauthier 
Ken Maynard 
Ray Moriarty 
Larry Noel 
Joe Bradley 
Eugene Sullivan 
Angus MacFeeley 
Bob Brown 
Jim Breen 
Joe Vieira 
Clayton Tracy 
John Winters 
Nick DeFelice 

Paul Pintrich 
Elmer Parker 

Royce Robinson 

Walter Collins 

Tom MacFeeley 
.James Murray 

Ralph Zwicker 

James Fairweather 

Joseph Woods 

Carl Dreger 

Bernard P. McMahon 

Clement L. Thompson 

Vinal H. Conway 

Earl R. Bayiiss 



1955 



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• 








-^ "■ 


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The Town Hall as pictured about 


1900. Notice the 


steeple. The building, 


formerly a 


Baptist 


church, 


was 


used 


by the school 


department 


in the 


late 


1920s as an 


elementary, 


two-session school. 










^ill Dayton 






















1900 , 


■ --- J 



yl 




Town Hall 



Adele Passmore 



1959 



/2. 




Wilmington Art Council Building 
Arts Center 

In 1987, the Arts Center moved 
into the old Town Hall. The 
Emergency Management Group is 
also housed there. The building 
has been renovated and is now a 
working cultural center. The Arts 
Council provides a variety of 
activities, including art 
exhibitions, art demonstrations, 
lectures, workshops, classes, 
concerts, etc. Social and cultural 
activities are held in the Art 
Center on a continuing basis. 

LHW 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



53 




Congregational Church 

This church, built in 1865, 
replaced the second 
Congregational Church built in 
1813 and destroyed by the 
Bond Bakery Fire in 1864. In 
1953, a parish house addition 
was made to the rear of the 
church. 

AHB 



ijim Durkee 



1953 



■ry 




The Grange Hall was a social 
gathering place for many of the 
events in the town in the 30s 
and 40sr Basketball games, 
banquets, movie house, dances, 
school plays, and every other 
imaginable event possible. 



-, .«^' 



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Grange Hall 



Roy Ferguson 



Now a parking lot on Wildwood Street for the library 



1955 



55 




The Roman House now serves as 
the school administration building 
and superintendent's ofHce. 
The Roman Barn was moved to the 
football field and was vandalized 
and burned down in 1986. 




Roy Ferguson 



1955 



S<o 




Wilmiiigton High School 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



^1 




Jim Durkee 



New Wilmington High School opened in 1950 



1953 



Sff 




^""rteooi**^ 






Gerry O'Reilly 



The first class to graduate from the "New" high school. 



1951 



59 




The Center School was built in 1888 to serve the needs of the school department from that time until it was 
destroyed: it is now a parking lot. The adjacent library building also served the school needs for the Town. This 
building now houses the Fourth of July Headquarters and also serves as a community service building. 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



Go 




















Center School 



1934 



Ci 




Jim Durkee 



Old Wilmington High School - now the Swain School 



1953 



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Preparing for Graduation - 1946 



George Dyas 



GZ 




Jim Durkee 



Daniel T. Buzzell School 



1953 



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South Schoolhonse (1894) 

A pride of Chestnut is this little, red schoolhonse. It remained a school until approximately 1938. In 1948 the 
Wilmington Skating Club used the building for their meeting house. Many remember the ''Flying Backmans" and 
Jeannie Ashworth, a speed skating Bronze Medalist at the 1960 Olympics. The South Schoolhonse is now home 
to the Marine Corps league. 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



G^ 




Baldwin (Butters') Apple Monument on Chestnut Street 
Ann Humphrey Berghaus 



One of Wilmington's 
contributions to the world was 
the Baldwin Apple. Although 
discovered originally by James 
Butters, Loammi Baldwin cut 
scions from Butters' tree and 
gave the apple its name. Oddly, 
when this monument was 
originally placed in Wilmington 
in 1895, it read: This pillar 
erected in 1895 by the Rumford 
Historical Association 
incorporated April 28, 1877 
marks the estate where in 1796 
Sam'l Thompson Esq. 
while locating the line of the 
Middlesex Canal discovered the 
Hrst pecker apple tree later 
named the Baldwin. 

AHB 



1981 



Q? Q? 







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Jim Cain 



Fred Cain's Chrysler- Plymouth Dealership on Lowell Street 
Williams' Sign now occupies the building 

Fred Cain Chrysler-Plymouth moved to its present location in 1948. 



1937 



Qn 




In 1936, Larry Gildart and Fred Cain were partners. Mr. Gildart and Mr. Cain parted amicably; they saw the need 
for more cars as the Depression ended. Mr. Gildart located to Main Street in a new building (which housed a tire 
company until recently). Fred Cain took over the Lowell Street building for a new Chrysler dealership. He moved 
to the present site on Main Street in 1948. Fred Cain is pictured in the open 1936 Chevy door. 



Jim Cain 



1936 



C9 



C9 



A Memory Map 

Why did I take these pictures that are included in this book? The primary reason was that a map of the town of 

Wilmington was prepared for the planning board. On the map was a list of 30 locations, including 27 

buildings. I wanted to have this map in my '^office" at home, but with the addition of pictures of 26 locations. 

I had contact prints made from 35mm Him and pasted them on my map. 

Taking the pictures brought back memories of earlier days in the neighborhood, going to and from school and 

making use of public buildings, as well as community businesses. My memories bring back those places that I 

journeyed to while growing up. 

I lived within a half mile of the Harnden Tavern all my life. Pictures of this landmark brought back vivid 

memories of my father milking the cow, pulling carrots from the root cellar, stoking the furnace, etc. 

At Brown's Crossing pumping station, the entire meadow area was mowed and flooded to provide great 

skating. If we had a really deep freeze, we could skate all the way to Martin's Pond in No. Reading. In the 

summer, we'd walk the Salem and Lowell tracks to fish off the bridge. 

I remember yarding and hauling logs with two Belgian work horses at Bill Feindel's farm in years after the 

1938 hurricane. 

In the area of "Devil's Den" we explored woods and fields, picked blueberries, and climbed the cliffs. 

Harriman's Tannery smelled bad, but it provided employment to many Wilmington residents. 

Remembering the old high school, I recall when the numbers of the faculty and student body were depleted by 

World War II. 

At the WhitHeld School, I believe there still was an outhouse in 1932. 

Jim Durkee 



70 




*^ "^ 



uor: 



Whitfield School 



Roy Ferguson 



Town DPW maintenance building 



1955 



7/ 




Jim Durkee 



Whitfield School 



1953 



IZ 



73 




The building in the foreground 
is now Elia's Country Store. 
The building in the background 
was the No.Wilmington Post Office. 






Buck Brothers, North Wilmington 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



7^ 




Roy Ferguson Train Station, North Wilmington 

Later housed Capt. Larz Neilson's Town Crier until destroyed by fire in the late 1980s. 



1955 



/jp 




Col. Joshua Harnden Tavern - 1980 



This home was built in the 1770s. During the period between 1793 and 1807, this home was an inn or "tavern" 
for travelers who would pass through town. It was saved from destruction when taken by eminent domain in 
1973 for historic preservation by the Town of Wilmington. The Col. Joshua Harnden Tavern, listed on the 
National Register of Historic Places, serves as a local history museum for our town. 

Gerry O'Reilly 1980 



Vfo 




Jim Durkee 



The Harnden Tavern - note the island in the road 



1953 



7P 




Jim Durkee 



Feindel Farm, now Upton Court 



1953 



7V 




Jim Durkee 



Herb Foskett House 



1953 



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Site of the North Intermediate School 



North School, Salem Street 



iRoy Ferguson 



1955 



SI 




Town Bakery, Salem Street 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



<?-^ 




Jim Durkee 



Temple Shalom, Salem Road 



1953 



83 




Devil's Den 
Legend tells of Captain Kidd burying 
his pirate gold in Devil's Den. This 
glacier cave was at the site of a 
granite hill off Andover Street, now 
the area of the Treasure Hill 
Development. 



Jim Durkee 



1953 



^1 




Jim Durkee 



Foster's Pond from Wilmington Side 



1953 



2^ 




Jim Durkee 



"Jinks" Ipswich River Crossing at Woburn Street 



1953 



§4 




Mr. Downs on his tractor 



Wilmington Historical Commission 
Babcock Collection 



1963 



?? 




Wilmington Historical Commission Carter House, 500 Woburn Street 
Babcock Collection 



1963 



9S^ 




Jim Durkee 



Swain House, corner of Woburn Street and Lowell Street 



1953 



^ 




Aerial view, looking east, of Silver Lake. The new "Jack's Lunch" that became the DAV headquarters is 
shown center foreground. 



Bill Dayton 



1964 




^ii^ 




Joyce Dalton 



Silver Lake -looking from Moxie Beach towards Main Street 

Steven's Market, Silver Lake Betterment Building, Ten Hills Ice House. 



1940 



9/ 



^^ 




Ten Hills Ice House -Burned to the ground 



Joyce Dalton 



1945 



f ^ 




Teh Hills Ice House -Burned to the ground 



Joyce Dalton 



1945 



Silver Lake Summers 

Summer began about two weeks before school was "let out." My mother would buy me a brand new pair of 
sneakers: black high-tops with a safety circle on the ankle and white soles. The sneakers were two sizes too 
big, but I could run faster with them on. School is out -"no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' 
dirty looks." When I arrived home, and my mother would say, "Take off the sneakers. You'll need them to go 
back to school." Barefoot the rest of the summer. Two days later, the city kids arrived; the population around 
Silver Lake tripled: 20 new kids on my street. Shutters came off. The outhouses were lined with lime, and the 
screen doors began to bang. They came by bus, train, and cars, right up Route 38 from Charlestown, East 
Boston, Everett, Medford, Cambridge, Arlington, and Somerville. They all flocked to their camps around 
Silver Lake and the cool water waiting at Skylark, Bloodsucker, Danger, Moxie, and Baby beaches. (See Lou 
Connelly's description on how he got to the lake.) 

This great increase in population was only a pulse of what was to come. The Skylark boathouse became a day 
camp for other city kids -they used waterwings and painted white wood floats —new groups each week. There 
were also baptisms at the Salvation Army Camp on Lake Street. The Evangelist camp in Milligan's Grove at 
the Tewksbury line was the two-week home for more kids up from Everett. They marched in line to Baby 
Beach each day, swam, then went back to camp for religion. The great hall proclaimed: "Behold Christ 
Cometh" in three-foot lighted letters, high on the front of the building. It was pure revival and swinging times 
when the lights were out. 



9V 



Thompson's Grove held Charlestown Nite, Cambridge Nite, and other city Nites. More people came on the 
weekends to outings at the Grove, adding to the Lake's population. The pavilion rocked -dancing, parties, 
wrestling, boxing- it was all there. The new building (still standing) housed rows of slot machines on each 
wall - all being used, and lines formed to wait for an open slot. Then, the carnival would come to the Grove- 
more people, more excitement. 

The Dance Hall on the lake was in its flnal days around my time, but I remember it lighted and in full use -I 
remember pounding the piano on the lime-green bandstand. Nights never slowed the population down. The 
^'Troubadours" as the young men were called that lived in a camp on Maplewood sang and partied all night -as 
others did elsewhere and everywhere around the lake. 

Early each morning I would go down to the lake; it was usually crystal clear and smooth as glass. I circled the 

lake looking for returnable bottles left from the night before: beer, milk, and tonic. Then, an hour later, the 

newcomers shattered the pane -they filled the lake. Mothers, daughters, sons, and some fathers on vacation. 

If I saw some kid I did not know, I would ask him if he wanted to buy a turtle. His eyes would glisten: 

"Wow! Sure -how much?" 

"Ten cents." 

I would then go and get an eight-inch sun turtle, and the deal was set -another city kid taken. 

During the war years, Jake Riley offered 750 for old car tires -I pulled every tire that was in the lake out, 

including one that hung on the pole at Skylark -I made a bundle. 

The people that filled the beaches came for the day, wallowed in the sun, swam some, gabbed a lot, but 



<?5- 



mainly enjoyed the lake for what it was. Teenagers hung in groups, talking, playing bid whist, kitty whist, or 
hearts. 

Tats, Smith Bakery, and even Stewarts store were filled with kids in sloppy, wet bathing suits -barefoot and 
looking for ice cream, tonic, or O-Boy gum. The people came to and from the lake all day long, ending at 
twilight as a big bathtub -every street and path were open to foot tral^c. 

Everyone watched everyone else for water safety, and only one rule was strictly enforced -if it thundered, 
leave the lake and hustle home. One storm I really remember was when it hailed. The stones were marble- 
sized and landed in the lake like bullets. The Mackey sisters dragged me home as fast as they could travel. We 
ended up in Mile's screened porch; then the bullets stopped and the sun came out. I'll never forget it. 
Labor Day -the city people all disappeared, and for two days the lake was completely silent. The shutters 
were up and the outhouses smelled. On the third day -back to school- get the new sneakers out, and, to my 
surprise, they fit perfectly on the dirt-brown, calloused feet. 

The surge of city people to Silver Lake ended after 1947. That year, they didn't go home -they all stayed. The 
camps were winterized or torn down to build new houses. The Town Beach was opened (enclosed by a fence), 
and everyone had to have a tag to get in. I've still got mine. The summer people became townies. 

The sizzling summers at Silver Lake came to an end when the flag burned on the beach on the last night of 
"Old Home Days." 

Gerry O'Reilly 



%> 




LMNG 
THE LIFE 

Wit, wisdom and woe 



Train trip to Silver Lake 



bif Lou Connelly 



Maybe it's because my fam- 
ily didn't own a car 
w len we were grovying up in 
th ; '40s, but I've always held a 
soft spot in my heart for the 
train. For one thing, we never 
had to worry about the high 
cost or scarcity of gasoline be- 
cause we knew we'd get to our 
summer destination. 

The train, that marvelous old 
Boston & Maine standby, lug- 
ged by its noisy, grinding lo- 
comotive, took us where we 
wanted to go. That place was 
the country town of Tewks- 
bury, just 15 miles north of 
Boston, but we anticipated that 
summer of fun like it was a trip 
to the White Mountains. 

Ma and Pa and the five kids 
and a kitten up to its neck in a 
pillowcase, would start the trip 
from our home in Somerville. 
It generally meant a 10-minute 
walk to Somerville Junction, a 
long-foigotten whistle stop off 
Central Street. 

The Journey would end 
about 35 minutes later at Silver 
Lake, a stop in Wilmington. 
Then there would be a 15-min- 
ute jaunt through the woods to 
our small cottage in South 
Teivksbury. 



The names of the stations 
along the way stand out as viv- 
idly as Jack Bermy's litany of 
Anaheim to Cucamonga. Som- 
erville Junction ... Medford 
Hillside . . . West Medford 
. . . Wedgemere . . . Win- 
chester . . . Crosst Street ,. . . 
Wobum . . . Central Square 
. . . North Wobum . . . WU- 
mington . . . and finally Silver 
.Lake. - 

There were times when we 
missed a train and had to take a 
later one that didn't stop at Sil- 
ver Lake. We had to get off at 
Wilmington and wait for ihe 
Lowell bus put of Everett Sta- 
tion that dropped us at the 
Wilmington-Tewksbury line. 
Sometimes we took the Arling- 
ton Center bus from Bartlett 
and Medford Streets in Somer- 
ville and made a breakneck 
dash down Harvard Avenue to 
catch the B & M at West Med- 
ford station. 

If we arrived after dark, it 
meant groping around to light 
an; oil lamp since the cottage 
didn't have electricity. If you 
think we're all hooked on tele- 
vision today, forget it. We 
didn't even have a portable ra- 
dio. 



But the rides on the train to 
and from provided some 
of the fondest memories. Get- 
ting there might not have been 
half the fun, but it sure was an 
experience. We still recall the 
day the cat was scared by the 
approaching locomotive at 
Somerville Junction and fled 
from my older brother's grasp, 
never to be seen again. 

In those daysi Tewksbury 
had a population of about 2500 
(today the town bulges with 
close to 25,000). The cottage 
nestled beneath towering pine 
trees, and somehow it escaped 
unscathed when the 1938 hur- 
ricane toppled the big pines 
like playing cards. 

The summer population 
came from such communities 
as Charlestown, Somerville, 
Cambridge and Chelsea. The 
chief attraction was the quiet 
country and its closeness to 
Boston .an^Jthat -wonderful 
mudhole called Silver Lake. 

I You could tell us about Lake 
Sunapee or Lake Winnepe- 
saukee or Ae beaches of Cape 
Cod, but we didn't care. Our 
Silver Lake proved exciting 
enough for us. Few of the vaca- 
tioning families lived close to 
the lake, but they never mind- 
ed the walk through the woods. 

We could take our bath in 
the lake. We accepted the chal- 
lenge of swimming from Sky- 
lark Beach to Bloodsucker 
Beach and loved the summer 
carnivals. The day the icehouse 
burned to the grotmd was the 
highlight of the summer of 
1944. 



Reproduced with permission of the author. 



"Well, we're here," my 
mother would sigh as she seat- 
ed herself on our screened 
porch, the ultimate luxury of 
the little camp. "They must 
have thought we were a btmch 
of gypsies. I wonder what hap- 
pened to the cat." 

Often, there'd be a scramble 
to see who would sleep on the 
couch of that porch. I usually 
lost because I was the young- 
est. But when I occasionally 
won, I loved snuggling under 
the covers and listening to the 
frogs croak from the swamp in 
the distance. There'd be a train 
whistle and you could hear the 
10:31 chug into the Silver Lake 
station. " 

"Right on time," my father 
would say as he pulled his 
watch from his vest pocket 

No longer does the train stop 
at Silver Lake, where as a teen- 
ager 1 once tossed a girlfriend 
goodbye and boarded the train 
to Somerville. Now you can 
buzz up to the place via Route 
93 in 20 minutes. Old Route 38 
is dotted with shopping cen- 
ters, fast food chains and used 
car lots. 

That's why when I read 
about gasoline shortages and 
folks worrying about getting to 
their summer vacations, I get a 
little nostalgic about the days 
gone by. Things' really were 
much simpler then. # 



7 / 




Jim Cain 



Winning Float of the Old Home Days Parade 

Front: Marjorie Jolmson; Anna Grant; Bea Wetherbee; Paula Newhouse 
Rear: Barbara Moore; Joan Preston, Queen of the Parade; and Dottie Froton 



1946 



Idf 




Rocco's 



Adele Passmore 



1940 



Boston's North End Came to Wilmington in 1940 

Rocco DePasquale, Sr., and his family spent their summers on Kelly's Hill during 1934 to 1937 because 
Josephine Depasquale, his wife, suffered from tuberculosis. Rocco Sr. purchased some land on Main Street to 
build a house because the pine trees would be good for his wife's illness. They had a young son, Rocco Jr., who 
was born May 4, 1933. Unfortunately, Mrs. DePasquale died on December 26, 1937 before the house could be 
finished. 

Rocco Sr. was left with a young son and a home partially built. His friends and family did not want young Rocco 
to be raised without a mother, so Rocco Sr. married Angela M. DePasquale on August 29, 1938, with the 
intention of starting a new life in Wilmington. Remembering the smells of the North End and the fine food there, 
Rocco built a restaurant and bakery. The property was a prime location with the Rainbow across the street, the 
Black Kat next door, and Thompson's Grove up the street, with Silver Lake nearby. 

With plenty of sand, stone, and water coming from the foundation hole, Rocco Sr. decided to build a stone 
building. He and Armando DeCarolis worked hard-day and night-to finish the building. Across the street in the 
Rainbow, Peter Neilson, another well-known stone mason, told Rocco that the building would not last (Rocco Jr. 
laughs today, as he tries to bore through the 16-inch stone walls to improve the restaurant.) 

Rocco Sr. built an apartment over the restaurant where his family lived, and he opened Rocco 's Restaurant on 
July 4, 1940. Rocco Jr. took over in 1963, and today Rocco's is run by Rocco Jr.'s two sons, Rocco (Chuck) 
and Matt DePasquale. 



Rocco Jr. 




"The Rainbow" 
(now C&J Lawnmower) 

The Rainbow was a local 
family restaurant that was 
owned and operated by Mike 
Scelzo. Shown in the picture 
are Mike Scelzo, Ralph Scelzo, 
and Joe Scelzo. The Rainbow 
collapsed in 1948 when a 
severe storm covered the roof 
with deep snow followed by 
rain. The new building housed 
a shoe store and Shamrock 
Liquors. 



Adele Passmore 




Joyce Dalton 



Collapsed Rainbow 



1948 




Silver Lake, Mildred Rogers School across the lake 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



;o3 




Mildred Rogers School 



Ann Humphrey Berghaus 



1981 



lo^ 




Jim Durkee 



Silver Lake - from Lake Street side - portable Lake School on the left; 
Bloodsucker Beach across the lake: center. 



1953 



105 




Saint Dorothy's Church 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



lO(o 



rr^viBr 




AAA Tire Company 




.'^->«*^.' .^,■..*^• 



Stanley's Gas, Main Street, Silver Lake 



Roy Ferguson 



1955 



lO'-f 




The "Pavilion" at Thompson's Grove, the center of great summer activity 



Wilmington Historic Commission 
Babcock Collection 



lOQ 




Main Street, Route 38, 
looking north towards Tewksbury. 
The corner of Grove Ave. was a 
bustling scene of activity, with 
Shamrock Liquors, Silver Lake Drug, 
Silver Lake Hardware, Tom 
McQuaid's Market, the barber shop, 
and the busiest of all, Tattersall's. 
Tat's was ice cream, ice cream, ice 
cream, newspaper, milk, bread, candy, 
and friendship. The comer was the 
gate to the town's only 
natural resource. Silver Lake. 



Roy Ferguson 



Shamrock Liquors is the first building on the right, 
then Silver Lake Drug; Riley's Gas Station is on the left. 



1955 



lo^ 




Tat's was built in 1924 by Bill and 
Lil Tattersall, and they only operated 
it during the summer months. Al 
"Jake" Riley, who had an ice delivery 
service in the summer, ran the store 
in the winter. Jake moved the gas 
pump over in 1940 and opened his 
gas station. Margaret and Hap 
Hourihan ran the store from 1945 
until 1985. It is now Tootsie's 
Kitchen. 



Tattersall's Paper Store 



I Roy Ferguson 



1955 



no 




Bill Tattersall - about 1927 



/// 




Joyce Dalton 



Jack's Lunch -on Grove Avenue at the corner of Wild Avenue 



1930s 



11^ 



First Grade Babies, 
Second Grade Bums, 
Third Grade Angels, 
Fourth Grade Sugar Plums 



■'3 



Silver Lake School - 1937 




..Caroline Smallev,_ 



Front Row: George Atkins, Leonard, William Chambers, , 

Joe Gilligan, Gerard Forrest 

Back Row; , Fred Reynolds, Ernie White, Tommy Thorton, Cathenne Duggan, Nancy Noble, Theresa Mahan, teacher: Miss Towle 



Joe Gilligan 



125 



IN 



^. < 



Silver Lake School - 1936 




Front Row: 



_, Lx)uis Bums, 



_, Gerard Forrest, Joe Gilligan, Mildred Erickson, . 



2nd Row: 

Marvin Russell, Brennan, 
3rd Row: 



., Ernie White, Jeff O'Brien, Jimmy Field, 



_, Georgie Atkins, Harold Hillson 



.Leonard, William Chambers, Roland Peterson, Charles Sullivan, 



, Fred Reynolds, Theresa Mahan, Caroline Smalley, 

At Back: teacher ,Miss Towle, Francis Poitrast 

Joe Gilligan 



_, Sullivan, John Barry, Fred Reynolds, 

_, Mickey Kelly, ,Catherine Duggan,. 



124 



US 



Silver Lake School - 1937 




Front Row; Phyllis O'Brien, Martha Dahlin, , Virginia Burris, Marie Baldwin, Jeanne Melzar, Shirley Peterson, Roland Peterson, 

Charlsie Sullivan, , Harold Hillson, Jim Field 

2nd Row: Sis Brennan, Ernie Brown, Francis Poitrast, Dick Goss, Joe Noonan, Hank Stewart, John Myers, George White, Frank Turner 

3rd Row: Peter Pistoulas, Dick Neilson, Bob Barr)-, Frank Reynolds, Freddie O'Reilly, Neil Joyce, Harvey Dec, George Fosket 

4th Row: Harold Carta, Phil Van Steenburg, Bob Mahan, Eddie Forrest, Carl Edwinson, Theresa Hutchinson, Rose Kelly, Mary Fleming 

Gerry O'Reilly 



126 



llCp 



!i\. 



Silver Lake School - 1936 




., Francis Poitrast, 



_, Les Fosket, 



., George Fosket, 



First Row: John Myers, Frank Turner, George White, 

Hank Stewart, George Hillson, Neil Joyce 

2nd Row: Patsey Dooley, Betty Gilligan, Gerry Sullivan, Rita Joyce, Rose Kelly, Phyllis O'Brien, Virginia Burns, Martha Dahlin, Jean Melzar, 

Marie Baldwin, Shirley Peterson, Jimmy O'Brien 

3rd Row: Mary Fleming, Maxine Thompson, Marjorie Dahlin, Gert Donovan, Jean Russell, Harold Carta, Peter Pistoulas, Eddie Forrest, Freddie O'Reilly, 

Phil Van Steenburg, , Bob Mahan, Hank Duggan 

At Back: Dick Neilson, John White 

Gerry O'Reilly 



123 



ill 



Silver Lake School - 1934 




Front Row: Neil Joyce, Phil Van Steenburg, Virginia Burns, Martha Dahlin, Elenor Smith, John Myers, Frank Turner, Hank Stewart, 
, Jimmy Field, Charlsie Sullivan, , , George White, , 



2nd Row: Patsey Dooley, Marjorie Dahlin, Betty Gilligan, 

, Jimmy O'Brien, , Doherty, , 

3rd Row: Joe Noonan, Carl Edwinson, , 



_, Theresa Hutchinson, Gert Donovan, Jean Russell, Rita Joyce, Gerry Sullivan, 

, Phyllis O'Brien 

, Freddie O'Reilly, , Dick Neilson, 



Frank Reynolds, George Hillson, Bob Barr)', George Fosket, Vincent Carey, Shirley Peterson, Marie Baldwin, Peter Pistoulas, 
At Back: Elmer Southmavde 



Gerry O'Reilly 



122 



^ar 




P6628 A View from Silver Lake. Wilmington. Mass. 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 



(M 




F6629 Tliru the Pines, Silver Lake. Wilmington. Mass. 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 



I^o 




P6631 The Lake Stxeet Shore Line, Wilmington, Mass. 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 



/a/ 




P6620 Lake Street. Wilmineton, Mass. 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 



/<R5 




P6619 Reflections, Silver Lake, Wilmington. Mass. 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 



/33 




P6617 In the Cove, Wilmington. Meiss. 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 



rxi 




West Schoolhouse (1875) 

With fond memories of happy days spent in this little school, many residents turned out to celebrate this building 

being listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 8, 1990. 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 



/^s 




Water Stand Pipe, KeUy's Hill 



Jim Durkee 



1953 



i:i(o 




Jim Durkee 



Billerica-Wilmington Airport on Hopkins Street 

(building on the left is the Sky Port Lounge - a Billerica nightspot) 



1953 



;:^7 




P6627 The Old Mill Stream. Wilmingtxsn. Meiss. 



Middlesex Canal at Lake Street 



Adele Passmore / Edith Lyford 



1920 



/ -^^r 




The Middlesex Canal Aqueduct over the Shawsheen River on Shawsheen Avenue at the Billerica town line. 



Gerry O'Reilly 



1980 




Bill Dayton 



The Middlesex Canal Aqueduct support column 



1900